When you decide to have a backyard wedding, you will want to take extra care to make your guests feel welcome. The easiest way to do this is to really knock their socks off when they arrive for the wedding ceremony.
Once your guests arrive at the ceremony location, you should have appropriate drinks and possibly even a snack available. Guests will begin arriving 30 minutes before the ceremony time that was noted on the invitation. If you purposely plan to start the ceremony late, some munchies will be much appreciated by the guests who arrived early.
If it is sunny, you should offer some relief (think about parasols, sunglasses, or fans) and a cool beverage. A lemonade bar or assorted popsicles can be fun, but you should pick something that is meaningful to you and your partner. It is also appropriate to have bug spray and sunscreen on hand. If it is cold or windy, you should offer cover and warmth (think about heaters, pashminas, or blankets) and a hot cocoa or cider station. You could even serve shooters of warm tomato soup and miniature grilled cheese sandwiches.
You can also use ambient music to help set the mood. Many couples hire live musicians (a harpist, guitarist, or a group of strings) to provide ceremony music, but your DJ can also set up a small system and play recordings of your chosen ceremony music. It is really helpful to have a microphone for the ceremony, so that your guests can better hear what you, your partner and your celebrant are actually saying. A printed ceremony program will help guests follow along, and it allows you to share information with your guests about the wedding party, those who are honored in memory, and even some notes about the home you are at.
At the end of the ceremony you may provide your guests with a way to “send you off” in style – birdseed, confetti, bubbles, even maracas or bells. If you decide to place anything small on each individual chair, such as the ceremony program, be aware that you need to have a backup plan in place if the day is particularly windy.
For more information on hospitality at your backyard wedding ceremony, please see page 68 in The Elegant At-Home Wedding!
Fabulous photo of the parasols by Michelle Lindsay Photography.